October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we thought it wise to highlight self-breast exams as it’s very important. Regular self-breast exams are something every woman should feel comfortable and confident doing as a part of a healthy routine.
While no single test can detect all breast cancers early, we believe that performing breast self-exam in combination with other screening methods (physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and in some cases ultrasound and/or MRI) can increase the odds of early detection.
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should look for:Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
– Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
– If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention: Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, a nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out), Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
Next, feel your breasts while lying down on your back, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.
Don’t panic if you think you feel a lump in your breast. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign (not cancer).
Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you’ve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worrisome.
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Featured image via iStockphoto